You could be led to believe that musicians see the internet as an evil source of file sharing which is causing long-term damage to artist and audience alike.
For some – and even those who have been at the very top of the tree – it also provides a new way of linking directly to the audience without the record company as the gatekeeper.
One artist Daryl Hall, one half of Hall and Oates who are the biggest selling male duo of all time, has grasped the potential to move beyond live performance to communicate directly with the audience.
In what he called ‘one of those light bulb moments’ be decided to launch ‘Live from Daryl’s House’. The concept was simple – he would play music with friends trying new songs, more familiar Hall and Oates tracks with twist and unique performances of his fellow musicians’ songs. He has likened it to Later with Jools Holland.
The formula has worked and there have now been 23 episodes which have featured an eclectic mix of established artists including Smokey Robinson, members of The Doors, K.T. Tunstall, Todd Rundgren as well as recent newcomers including Plain White T’s, Parachute and Canadian techno-rockers Chromeo.
It has given his fans new access to Hall being able to see how he works in what he has described as an “opportunity for me to exhibit what it is I do directly to the public without any pre-judgment.”
As Hall said in a recent interview when asked the question about how the web has changed his relationship with his fans he said: “The internet has taken away the influence of the gatekeepers, It’s offered a more populist, more direct way of communicating with people and I feel more attuned to the way I think and the way I perceive things.”
For other artists the web has enabled them not only to maintain their careers but also build on a solid fan base. One that has really grasped social media in all its forms is the former front man of the 1980s band The Alarm, Mike Peters.
Since the mid-1990s, without a major record deal, he was an early adopter of the medium by using the web and fans forums to maintain and build interest in his solo work. As the channels has grown so he has used them even using iTunes to send regular video reports of his climb up Everest to raise money for his Love Hope and Strength cancer charity.
What Peters has done is to use social media to give his fans a real feeling of community which has also moved off line. On past tours, those attending gigs have been able to use email to shape that concerts set list; at each concert Peters takes time to meet the fans during an interval even giving impromptu acoustic performances in the middle of the audience; and every January he holds ‘The Gathering’, next year’s will be the 18th, in his native North Wales where 2000 fans gather for a weekend of acoustic and electric concerts by him concerts as well as other Peters/Alarm related events.
What these two examples show that whatever level artists have reached that social media is a way to talk directly to their audience and build a solid community which can maintain a career outside the mainstream record labels.
Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.